2020 has proven that the only consistency in life is that we should expect change. And our definition of “change” certainly broadened in the last 12 months! Looking to 2021, we know that we don’t know. It’ll be a year of unknowns.
After working 30+ years in communication, here are 5 things that we DO know though. And if these are understood intrinsically, as God unfurls 2021, we’ll be more prepared than we were during 2020.
- Audience is Critical. A church needs to understand their 2 audiences: congregation (internal) and community (external). This research should motivate a renewed love for them. They’re been through a lot in 2020 and that should grieve and motivate you. Understand them NOW. Get into their minds where they are today. Talk to them. Fall in love with them all over again. Ministry isn’t about you. It’s about them.
- Your Audience Expects Something from You. If you feel like they ignore you, you’re not providing what they need or want (a solution to a prominent problem or a path to an important goal) or you’re not communicating it properly. However, most churches over-communicate too many things so your audience starts ignoring messaging. When this trend begins, it’s difficult to reverse it. So, in 2021, you NEED to become known for something relevant and needed. One thing. Build your church brand on it and ensure it a). allows your sub-ministries to unify around it, and most-importantly, b). that it points to Jesus and the Gospel.
- Your Website Needs Work. Why do I know this? Because in 2021, the website will still be the center of effective communication strategies. All other channels (social, text, email, print, etc.) will point to your web content. And everyone knows that all reputable organizations have a website, and they all know how to find websites. They Google your name. So, your SEO is essential; and that takes consistent planning, organization, updated content, and continuous care (based on SEO rules). Your online audience needs to be increasing because they’re delighted in your content. And that they did it quickly and easily.
- Don’t Rely on One Channel. Sure, your website is important; but for essential content, don’t rely on one channel. 2020 proved we can’t even rely on stage announcements. Instead, ensure your audience knows a primary method of communication (website makes sense) AND a secondary. So, this requires intentionally promoting your URL (if it has easy-to-discover content). Then choose another channel (say, Facebook) as a backup. If your website’s down, they know where to turn. Avoid print and stage in 2021.
- Prayer is Essential. As we enter the year of the unknowns, let’s hone our communication strategy with the God who does know. Your church simply will not be all that God wants it to be unless you build communication and dependency with Him. Let’s create a new year’s resolution to pray more. And get other praying with us. If next year’s like this year, we certainly will need it.
Happy new (unknown) year. I’m praying for you as you read this! Let’s pray together.